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Antoni CLAVE 5 April 1913 - 1 September 2005

Biography

Antoni Clavé, born in Barcelona, was a Catalan master painter, printmaker, sculptor, stage and costume designer. He trained at the School of Fine Arts, Barcelona.

During the Spanish Civil War Clavé served as a draughtsman for the Republican government but at the end of the war he fled to France. After internment at Les Haras camp in Perpignan, Clavé settled in Paris in 1939, drawing comics and working as a book illustrator.

His work evolved from a baroque, ornamental style toward a pure, minimalistic aesthetic. In his later years, his work is completely abstract, employing expressive lines and exploring the boundaries of shading, texture and colour. Clavé's motifs included scenes of tranquil domesticity tinged with melancholy, puppet-like female figures, children, clowns and harlequins. He is best known for his lyrical abstractions, works which combine paint with collage.

His theatrical designs have appeared on stages around the world. His works include sets for opera, theatre, and ballet, most notably for Roland Pettit's ballet company.

His works are influenced by artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard (les Nabis) and George Rouault, but particularly by Pablo Picasso, with whom he became acquainted in 1944 in Paris.

In 1954 Clavé ceased working as a stage-set designer and illustrator to devote himself entirely to painting, visiting Spain again. His paintings became more abstract and enigmatic: inspired by wall textures and graffiti, Clavé began integrating scraps of newspaper and other similar materials into his painting in a collage-like manner.

In 1957 he began designing carpets. From 1960 he also produced sculpture. Clavé's work in the latter field includes bas reliefs, assemblages and totem-like sculptures of wood and modelled or imprinted lead, some of them incorporating objets trouvé: their general feeling evokes the archaic. In 1965 Clavé moved to the South of France, near Saint-Tropez, where he was to die in 2005. Using the mixed techniques he had mastered through his previous experimentation, Clavé's paintings became darker, many of them almost entirely black. He produced his "Hommage à Picasso" series in the 1980`s, followed by a series inspired by urban living in New York, which Clavé visited in 1972 and again in 1989.

After solo exhibitions in museums and galleries in Zurich, Barcelona, Paris and Tokyo, Clavé was given a comprehensive retrospective at the Centre Pompidou Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris in 1978. The Spanish pavilion at the 1984 Venice Biennale was dedicated to Antoni Clavé.

His work is displayed in many museums, including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museo Patio Herreriano de Valladolid, Spain, Tate Gallery, London, Museo de Bellas artes de Bilbao, Museum of Modern Art, Paris, Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and The British Museum, London.

He was nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design) for his work on the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen.

Related Artists:

Pablo PICASSO